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Trump’s Misguided Partial Reversal of the Opening to Cuba

Trump announced [1] the partial undoing of the opening to Cuba last week:

Trump’s new policy, outlined broadly in a speech Friday, would stop individual Americans from traveling to Cuba under the so-called people-to-people exemption and ban business that directly benefits the Cuban military.

Even a partial reversal of engagement with Cuba is a mistake. The U.S. has tried punishing the Cuban government for decades, and it has neither changed the way the government behaves nor helped the Cuban people, so going back to any part of that failed policy will yield the same poor results. The bar on business that would benefit Cuba’s military almost certainly pulls the rug out from under many American companies that have already made or were planning to make significant investments in the country, and that will mean losses for American firms that didn’t have to happen. Reimposing restrictions on Americans’ ability to travel to the country is one of the least defensible moves the administration could make. This restriction punishes individual American citizens by blocking them from traveling where they wish to go, and it does Cubans no favors.

American academics, tourists, and others should not be prohibited from traveling to Cuba on their own, and in some cases doing so is the most practical way for them to go there. Interfering with that just to spite Havana creates barriers to Americans’ travel that shouldn’t exist. These measures are a sop to hard-line dead-enders that loathe diplomatic engagement and never wanted an opening to Cuba at all, and by caving once again to foreign policy hard-liners Trump has shown his own weakness and poor judgment.

The pretense that this has anything to do with the Cuban government’s abuses and violations of human rights might almost seem credible if it came from someone else, but coming from the Saudi-embracing, Sisi-praising, Duterte-admiring Trump it is an insulting and blatant exercise in hypocrisy.

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13 Comments To "Trump’s Misguided Partial Reversal of the Opening to Cuba"

#1 Comment By Adriana I Pena On June 19, 2017 @ 10:55 am

What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same things and expecting different results.

I know, I know. The Cubans in Miami want it, and they are voters that need cultivating. But a foreign policy should not be hostage to a voting block.

And anyway, there are plenty of Cuban-americans who see the opening as a chance for family reunification. They will not be happy with new restrictions.

But hey, if we can posture as champions of democracy by beating up on Cuba again.. Yes, that is made to order for a President for whom posturing is the order of the day.

#2 Comment By Tony On June 19, 2017 @ 11:28 am

Adriana I Pena: “But a foreign policy should not be hostage to a voting block.” Absolutely correct, but look at how Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE,… with their dismal human rights are getting special treatment from the US. My point is our foreign policy is being hijacked by money and short-term gain.

#3 Comment By Butler T. Reynolds On June 19, 2017 @ 12:25 pm

Trump’s trying really hard to make Obama look better. *sigh*

#4 Comment By rayray On June 19, 2017 @ 2:10 pm

To respond to the above, I don’t think that Trump did this either for money or short term gain, or to appease the Cuban-American voting bloc in Miami. First off, there is no financial gain to this move, quite the contrary. And the dead ender Cuban-American voting bloc is still vocal, but not particularly relevant. The majority of Floridian Cubans welcomed the openings and overtures to Cuba.

Trump did this because Fox News hated it when Obama created these openings to Cuba. That is all that Trump watches, he does not read, and thus it is largely the beginning and the end of any and all of his political and policy thinking…that’s why he did it.

He genuinely has no understanding of any of it.

#5 Comment By jeff On June 19, 2017 @ 2:15 pm

Can we all acknowledge that most of the actions Trump has taken so far are simply those measures that reverse Obama priorities, regardless of their merit?

Coal, oil, education, anti-discrimination, Cuba, immigration, DREAMers, and on and on.

These easy targets require no legislative support, and are driven by eight years of demonization of Obama. Republicans (and the US as a whole) have exactly the president they asked for.

#6 Comment By Jon S On June 19, 2017 @ 4:58 pm


Sadly too true. I didn’t think anyone that made it to the presidency could be that ignorant. This has really been an eye opener.

#7 Comment By Viriato On June 19, 2017 @ 6:20 pm

I think this reflects the fact that Trump is an old-school American nationalist. Like many America Firsters back in the day, Trump is skeptical of nation-building abroad but makes an exception for the Western Hemisphere, i.e. he’s perfectly happy to torment our neighbors.

#8 Comment By Viriato On June 19, 2017 @ 6:24 pm

@Adriana I Pena: By the way, thanks for the links to your articles about the Spanish Falange, which you posted on one of Pat Buchanan’s columns a few weeks ago. I only saw them yesterday. I’ll read them with great interest.

(I apologize for posting something totally unrelated, Mr. Larison. But I wanted to thank Adriana I Pena, and I don’t know a better way to do so.)

#9 Comment By jk On June 19, 2017 @ 6:24 pm

Oh yeah, Obama did it, obvious rational for everything in Trump administration to do the dumb inverse, because “Obama did it.”

#10 Comment By Whine Merchant On June 19, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

Clearly TAC readers see through this move as an “easy win” for a president who has mostly own-goals on the score board. It is something his fans can point to when asked ‘what has he accomplished?’. All show and no substance, just like the reality performer he actually is –

#11 Comment By Adriana I Pena On June 19, 2017 @ 11:11 pm


You are welcome. I should get back to writing. Alas, after I wrote these, my mother was struck with dementia, and my father was confined to a wheelchair. Taking care of them consumed my time and energy. Now that they are both gone, I may start writing again.

#12 Comment By Viriato On June 20, 2017 @ 7:19 am

@Adriana I Pena: I’m sorry to hear about that.

#13 Comment By Adriana I Pena On June 20, 2017 @ 10:47 am


It is life. There is only way to avoid watching your parents decaying and dying. I did not want to do that to them.